Fri 12 - Sun 14 Jul
EXHIBITION: Matombo Garden Sculpture Exhibition, Knebworth House, until 29 August
This al fresco exhibition showcases the work of renowned and emerging artists from Zimbabwe. The pieces, which you can find dotted around Knebworth’s 28-acre formal gardens, were purchased directly from independent sculptors, co-operatives and community workshops to show of the country’s rich artistic culture. And they’ll all be going up for sale once the exhibition comes to a close.
COMEDY: Gyles Brandreth: Break a Leg, Broadway Theatre, Letchworth, 13 July
The naturally funny and eminently flamboyant ex-MP, author and One Show reporter, stops off at Letchworth on his new tour which celebrates the weird and wonderful world of threatre, all served up with a healthy dose of wit, wisdom and, of course, plenty of drama!
CONCERT: Battle Proms, Hatfield House, Herts, 13 July
Dust off the picnic hamper and pack it with Champers for this annual party in the park-style celebration, complete with cannons, cavalry and Spitfires. Wave your flags to all the rousing classical favourites, like Beethoven’s Battle Symphony and Land of Hope and Glory, then ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at the spectacular firework finale.
FAMILY: Big Wild Sleepout, RSPB The Lodge Nature Reserve, Sandy, 13-14 July
Camp out under the stars at this nature reserve and nod off to the sounds of owls, foxes and deer in their natural habitats – there’ll be twilight walks to see what the bats get up to after dark, stargazing with Sandy Astronomical Society, as well as the obligatory marshmallow toasting around the campfire. You can even indulge in a fish and chip supper or breakfast bap as you wake to the dawn chorus (well, perhaps not that early!)
FAMILY: Summer Garden and Beach, Burston Garden Centre, St Albans, 13 July – 15 Sept
Heading to the garden centre? Don’t forget to pack your bucket and spade! Wait, what?! Yep there’s going to be a giant sandpit popping up over the summer, so while you’re eyeing up those hanging baskets over a nice cold drink or ice cream, the kids can entertain themsleves building sandcastles. Genius!
FESTIVAL: Folk by the Oak, Hatfield House, 14 July
Dust off your ukelele for this chilled out one-dayer. The vibe? Think village fete mixed with full-on festival and (obviously) plenty of folk music, arts and crafts. There’ll be Frank Turner on the Main Stage as well as indie folk trio The Staves, plus loads more guitar strumming, pipe playing artists on the Acorn Stage. Stalls will be hawking all manner of wholesome handcrafted wares, plus crafty workshops in things like felting, leather and woodwork and weaving. There’ll also be a food village but you can bring your own picnic, too! Flower garlands and henna tattoos optional.
KIDS: Interactive Science Exhibition, Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton, 1 July – 8 Sept
What kid doesn’t love wouldn’t want to learn how to become invisible, create eletricity and experience what a tornado feels like? This world touring exhibition, produced by scientists, physicists, geologists and astronomers, has already broken records, selling a whopping 100,000 tickets in Rome, and now it’s coming to our very own Luton. There’ll be over 40 interactive exhibits on the themes of science, maths, physics, natural disasters, nature, solar energy, biology, music and more.
OPEN-AIR THEATRE: Shakespearean plays, Blenheim Palace, 8 July – 7 Sept
Tis the season to dodge the rain and enjoy some outdoor thespian action so grab your rug, brolly and, of course, a sneaky hipflask as Europe’s first pop-up Shakespearean theatre is pitching up at Blenheim Palace with Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and Romeo & Juliet– the 13-sided scaffolding theatre, with three tiers of covered seating and open courtyard for ‘groundlings’, will be accompanied by a Shakespearean Village selling local ales, ice cream and side shows.
FESTIVAL: Summer by the River, London, until 28 Aug
If you’re heading for the Big Smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital, Summer by the River (until 28 Aug). Outdoor cinema as well as concerts, workshops, comedy and quizzes- you can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing.